Communities turn iconic red phone boxes ‘blue’ to thank the NHS

  • From a village food larder to commemorating the NHS

  • BT offers communities the chance to adopt their local phone box for just £1 and turn it into something inspirational for their local area

  • More than 6,000 of BT’s phone boxes have already been adopted by communities

BT is encouraging community groups to seize the opportunity to do something wonderful with their iconic red phone boxes during the coronavirus pandemic. Communities have been thinking innovatively to transform red phone boxes for good, from community food stores to illuminating the red kiosks blue as a tribute to the NHS. Already, more than 6,000 phone boxes have been adopted by communities since BT set up its ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme in 2008.

One example, Driven Forward Charity in Windsor, has turned a phone box into a donation point for items for the local foodbank during the coronavirus pandemic. Donors can drop off non-perishable food goods through the removed panel. Once a week volunteers then pick the items up and deliver them to Windsor Foodshare.

Tiia Stephens, Driven Forward Charity, said:

“We saw that the local Windsor Foodbank put out a plea on social media, as they were struggling with an increased number of families and adults to support, with donations reduced. We recently adopted a BT phone box with the intention to use it as a drop off point for donations for the homeless that our charity supports locally. We thought this would be a great opportunity to support another local charity in need during these tough times, so we turned the phone box into a place for much needed donations for the Windsor Food bank.”

BT will continue to provide electricity (if already in place) to power the light for adopted phone boxes, free of charge. Where electricity is available, adopted boxes can be used as housings for defibrillators – an increasingly popular and potentially life-saving conversion.

In Crich, near Matlock in Derbyshire, the local community adopted their local phone box to house a defibrillator. Recently, the window of the phone box has been transformed to commemorate the NHS with a stunning stained-glass window. Mrs Richmond, who came up with the idea, also worked as a nurse for 21 years, and said the NHS panel had been particularly meaningful.

A phone Box in Upton, near Peterborough, has also been lit up in blue to pay tribute to the NHS.

Sam Burton, Upton Community Council, commented:

“We recently adopted a BT red phone box and have been working with the Community Heartbeat Trust to get a defibrillator installed for our local community. I came up with the idea to light up the phone box in blue for the NHS after seeing local people lighting up their houses. The blue lit phone box is a tribute of thanks to the NHS from our village.”

BT’s Head of Street, James Browne, said: “We’ve seen some amazing transformations of our phone boxes by communities who’ve adopted our iconic red payphones during the coronavirus pandemic. With more than 6,250 payphones already adopted across the UK, the scheme has proved to be really popular and there are still plenty of kiosks available should communities want to preserve them. The opportunities for communities are endless and we’re pleased to be giving even more local communities the chance to get involved. Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our traditional BT red phone boxes.”

Around 4,000 traditional red phone boxes are available for adoption across England and BT will also consider adoption requests to house defibrillators in more modern glass boxes.

Communities can adopt a kiosk if they are a recognised public body, such as a parish council, community council or town council. Boxes can also be adopted by registered charities or by individuals who have a payphone on their own land.

Most people now have a mobile phone and calls made from public telephones have fallen by around 90 per cent in the past decade.

For further details on how to apply to Adopt a Kiosk, simply go to www.bt.com/adopt where application forms and information can be found.


Notes to Editors

Private individuals cannot purchase kiosks unless they own the land where the kiosk is currently placed.

Here’s a list of eligible bodies from our website:

• Recognised local authority (e.g. District/Borough Council)

• Parish/Community/Town Council or equivalent

• Registered charity

• Private land owner. (Anyone who has one of our telephone boxes on their land)


About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, BT Group’s reported revenue was £23,428m with reported profit before taxation of £2,666m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London stock exchange.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com